Sunday September 8th 2019 23rd Sunday Ordinary Time (Cycle C)
The tie in between today’s readings: There is a God, and you’re not Him.
Psalm 90:3-6; 12-17, Wisdom 9:13-18, Philemon 9-10; 12-17, Luke 14:25-33
OK, so you’re young, energetic, and you’ve got this life with options upon options to choose from in order to reach your “happily ever after”. Because you’re smart, you look to intelligent people to help ensure your future. You seek out guidance for careers and the teachers to help you to achieve them. You ask the opinions of friends, family, and even computer programs to help you figure out if that person you’re dating is really the ONE. You go to professionals for advice on real estate, insurance, and finances. You’ve mapped out your life and will execute your plan like a military campaign, but decisions in the fog of the future could easily get you bogged down and lost. Who can you trust to keep on track? You need God. As we read in Wisdom 9:13-18, He knows it all and has seen it all. He’s your eye in the sky, your GPS. Trust Him and He will direct you through the darkness. That’s all fine and good for this life. There is another aspect that you need to consider, however, and that is what God has to say about your future’s future; after you die…you’re in trouble.
Psalm 90 ties in the troubles of life with our sin and it exposes God Almighty as an adversary. You don’t want Him as an enemy. He doesn’t want to be your enemy either. Our gospel reading in Luke 14:25-33 encourages you to evaluate your circumstances in the Bible’s version of, “if you can’t beat them, join them”. Jesus alludes to Himself, in verses 31-32, as an attacking king with a strong army coming against you. His terms are unconditional surrender. Verses 28-30, show that you don’t have the resources to execute your own plans. Give them up! The logical conclusion in verse 27 is to let go of everything, take up your cross, and follow Jesus. By losing your life for His sake in this world you will save your own soul for the next. Surrendering to God for the next life, as well as obeying Him in this life takes trust. Trust is risky, but a risk worth taking.
Onesimus, our runaway slave and new convert to Christianity through the preaching of the Apostle Paul, has a decision to make: does he go back to his master for punishment and risk death for running away or should he just keep on going and take his chances? Hey, not an easy call, but he has Paul in his corner. The Apostle here acts as a Christ figure to mend the breach between the offended Philemon and his guilty slave in today’s reading in the Epistle to Philemon. Onesimus trusts Paul, trusts God, and returns. Philemon forgives Onesimus as a brother in Christ and sets him free to return to Paul and help him with his ministry. Later he becomes the Bishop of Ephesus after Timothy and St. Onesimus is martyred in 95 A.D.
This story of faith, trust, and courage encapsulates what it means to be a Christian and challenges us to go God’s way when we are at life’s cross roads. He’s got the power. He’s got the wisdom. He’s got our best interests in mind, but does He have you? Trust Him. Surrender to Jesus and join Him in His sacrifice for this life and the next. Give it all up and you’ll get it all! It’s the smart thing to do.